Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina (Film Thoughts: The Two Popes)

the-two-popes-600x889Talk about mixed feelings.  On one hand, as a film, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Two Popes,’  directed by Fernando Mereilles. It’s a great story – Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, played by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – who succeed each other. It’s a celebration of what’s great in humanity, about two people agreeing even enjoying each other’s company even if they disagree about fundamental things in life. One is a conservative who wants things to stay the same, the other wants to adapt to the changing world. It shows how we can all agree to disagree and live peacefully, and could be a great metaphor for all the political divisions in the world. It is certainly a great example of fine acting by both actors – Pryce has the meatier role and have gotten more attention but I think Hopkins more than holds his own. It certainly can make you feel good, and as someone who was raised a Catholic, it gave me a sense of pride in the Catholic faith. As a film, it sets out successfully what it was meant to do.

BUT…

Its message is dangerous. It’s total fiction, and one should really read this great article in order to fully comprehend its negative impact. First of all, we need to give weight to allegations that Pope Benedict could be a Nazi sympathizer. Plus, the movie makes it seem like he is resigning to give way to more progressive leanings. The truth is probably closer tot he fact that the church, under his leadership, is guilty of several crimes, including hiding sexual assaults from Catholic priests. In this case, one might accuse the film of whitewashing these sexual harassment allegations. And of course, the two Popes talk about the church helping the poor, but at the same time the film shows us all the opulence of the church – can you imagine how much food can be bought if they sold one of their precious paintings?

So this leaves me in a dilemma – should I laud the film as effective entertainment? Or expose the impact of its untruths?

The Better Half (Film Thoughts: The Wife)

large_wife-posterAfter watching ‘The Wife,’ I will now be officially rooting for Glenn Close to win a Best Actress Oscar. She has been nominated six times and has never won, and if the Academy wants to give statues for ‘body of work,’ then by all means just hand the trophy to her. And it’s not like they would be giving it for a slouchy performance. Her titular role in this film is the heart and soul of the piece – it ties it all together, and it’s a great piece of restrained acting. In the hands of another actress, it could have gone hysterical, or showy, but Close knows how to show restraint, and it all adds up to a weighty and credible performance, and surely worthy of awards and accolades.

I also really liked the film. Swedish Director Bjorn Runge has fashioned an intelligent film, about an author (Jonathan Pryce, also fantastic by the way) who wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. His wife has always been there by his side, and in the course of the film, we also learn that she has profound contribution to his achievements. You get swept into the story right away (with some parts told in flashback) and you get immersed in the low key if a little predictable. suspense of the narrative. Runge’s direction is also on the predictable – if solid – side. I hope the film finds an audience, even in the late summer doldrums.